After the Water
by Bebe Cook

You forget your own life.
Today you wished for foresight
to have tied a string around your finger.
Days filled with singularity of purpose are gone.
Desolation seared your heart;
against devastations’ backdrop a surrogate
family was born. Soldiers replace
the man at your side, children at your breast.
You miss them with ferocity.

Mourn. Silent things do not speak.
A folded city with no hope of God.
Streets no different than where you taught
your daughter to ride a bike. Rubble
outside every home ; memories left behind.
A familiar china pattern, linens, lavender scented
shampoos, keepsake wedding albums, hand-pieced
quilts and broken-bits of depression glass remind you
of home; where an iridescent bowl sits in the foyer.
Each spring sweet blooms of gardenia float.

These hobbled things wrap our chill: absent bodies,
empathy for those disenfranchised, a dance for freedom
and the hard knowledge of our own breath is iced by relief.
These long days, tears come without warning.
Push them away with gloved hands. Bury sobs
in dark rooms of makeshift trailers.

A moment weeks later, safe in bed, thrust back
into your own life, an interloper with an aphasic drag.
Not a soul within an arm's reach who understands this life,
so meticulously preserved, is suddenly foreign.

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